As a lawyer, you must be able to alter and establish connections with people from all walks of life and economic backgrounds. In this week’s episode, we’ll discuss how to grow your relationship with highly educated persons.
Dean Melchionni, who was recently appointed Director of Single Event Operations at The Lake Law Firm, joins Grace and Liel to discuss what it takes to build trust and earn the attention of other lawyers, doctors, and other key players in the growth of your law firm.
In this episode, Dean explains the fundamentals for targeting highly educated people and how to deal with situations where you don’t have all of the answers, among other things.
Whether you’re a lawyer networking with other lawyers or a marketer who works with lawyers daily, this discussion may help you fine-tune your strategy and increase the quality of your relationships.
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Liel : [00:00:00] Assumptions are the termites of relationships, said Henry Winkler. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and author of Beyond Se Habla Español How Lawyers Win the Hispanic Market. And This is In-camera podcast where we do not make assumptions. Instead, we ask and nurture relationships. Welcome to our podcast, Private Legal Marketing Conversations. Grace Welcome back. How are you today?
Grace: [00:00:52] Good. How are you, Liel?
Liel : [00:00:53] I’m good. Grace, very excited. This is a race weekend. I don’t know what I’m starting with that, but it is a race weekend. And, you know, it’s, I believe, the first sprint of the year, which is also a little bit more exciting because qualifying is happening right now. It’s sprint happening tomorrow and then there’s an actual race. So enough about Formula One because probably nobody cares outside of you and me. Let’s talk about our next conversation, which is a very exciting one. And we have a special guest also joining us. So let’s talk about that.
Grace: [00:01:24] Yes. So let’s introduce our very special guest and our very special topic. We are going to be speaking about best practices when dealing with a highly educated client, surgeon, lawyer, so and so on, with a new friend of the company and law firm. And that is Dean McKinney. Dean McKinney was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Texas, where he was a member of the men’s basketball team. And since then, he has worked numerous jobs. But the longest and most recent was at Globus Medical, where he was an associate spine specialist. Globus is a medical device company, and in his role he assisted the ortho neurosurgeons in all aspects of spine surgery, from planning the case, looking at X-rays to executing a successful surgery in the operating room to patient follow up. This role also included building relationships with new doctors to accrue more business for his territory. Thank you, Dean, so much for joining us today. I appreciate you being here.
Dean: [00:02:21] Of course. Of course. Happy to be here.
Liel : [00:02:23] Dean, welcome to In-Camera podcast. Really nice to meet you and it’s great having you here. Why don’t we start? Why don’t you tell us where you where this podcast is finding you?
Dean: [00:02:31] So right now, I am currently in my first week working for the law firm as the director of operations for Single Events. So as Grace and I have been working very closely and it’s been it’s been great drinking through a firehose a little bit, but it’s good love learning new topic and working with great people. So things are good. I’m a little bit like a babe in the woods, but things are good.
Liel : [00:02:57] That’s great. And where are you based? Where are you going to be working out from?
Dean: [00:03:02] I will be working at a Fort Worth, Texas.
Liel : [00:03:04] That’s nice. Yeah. So you went to UT, right?
Dean: [00:03:07] I did some called the Harvard of the South.
Liel : [00:03:11] That’s right. That’s right. You cannot refer to it in any other term, but. Yeah, great. No, I’m glad to hear I’m here in Austin, Texas. And so, Grace, we have Texas in the house. Woo, woo! What’s happening? What’s happening here? Most of the times we are always there’s more East Coast presence in this in this podcast than live outside Texas like just any other part of the of the country.
Dean: [00:03:33] So I’m glad to swing the percentage in our favor today.
Liel : [00:03:37] Exactly. Exactly. So, Dean, the topic for today, I mean, it’s very interesting, right? We’re usually thinking and particularly in this podcast, we’re always thinking about consumers. And when we’re thinking about consumers, we’re always thinking about how to make things easy for them to understand, to grasp how to deliver a message in a way that is approachable, that is inclusive, amongst other things. Now you’re you’re here looking at a very particular demographic group, one that. Potentially knows already very well and understands very fluidly what you’re doing, what your intentions are. And they can see very clearly, very, very easily through the mirror. What’s in it for them and what isn’t right. And so why don’t you help us first establish what are the scenarios in which type of situations with type of practices, how does this synergy between a law firm having as clients or their lawyers or surgeons or other very highly qualified individuals?
Dean: [00:04:49] Well, the situation in dealing with these highly educated people, most of the time, people come in them very intimidated because, you know, years of schooling and they’re usually very confident people in themselves. So one thing I always want to tell people is when you when you deal with these type of people, you can’t go in intimidated. They just like you said, they they know what’s in it for them and they they see it. They probably may or may not know the subject better than you. So I think one of my first and best practices when dealing with lawyers or surgeons is always be honest with them because they they can smell BS from a mile away. And if you start stuttering or stammering or talking out of your backside, they’re going to know. And then you will immediately lose all credibility.
Liel : [00:05:43] So what would you say are good ways, good practices for building trust? And obviously this is interesting. I mean, here we’re talking and everything that we talk about here in In Camera podcast tends to be seen from the legal standpoint. Right. But obviously, some of us here, including myself, are marketeers. And so obviously our clients are lawyers. Right. Our our clients are highly educated people. And so I’m very interested in hearing how do you think is a good way to build trust with someone that you are trying to turn into a client which falls within this demographic?
Dean: [00:06:21] I think the biggest thing to build trust is to know know what you’re talking about. When I was in Globus Medical, you have to know your tools, your devices, what you’re selling for that spine surgery. Because if you go in there, you’re trying to sell a surgeon or you’re trying to talk to a lawyer, you have to be confident in what what you’re selling, confident in what you know, what you’re doing. You can’t be going to go, yeah, I think this will work. Or these tools. And if the guy has them, he’s asking you what you can do with them. You have to be able to explain, you know, like it’s the back of your hand, what’s what, what it can do and what you can do for that person to help them improve their business or improve their surgery, whatever it may be.
Liel : [00:07:06] Grace. What are your thoughts? You deal with lawyer clients all the time.
Grace: [00:07:10] So you know, when you deal with them, there’s really an all marketing. It’s always the know like trust cycle, right? We always talk about that, how they got to get to know you. Then they have to actually like you and then they have to trust you and then they might buy, right? So when it comes to that whole cycle, I think, you know, being able to speak the language, being able to be trustworthy and talk to them in a way that makes sense is probably one of the most important things that you can do. You know, and to Dean’s point, when you’re speaking their language and when you’re talking to them, they need to see you. You don’t have to be the expert, per se, but you do have to know what you know and be confident in what you know. And actually, Dean and I had talked about this before where it was like if you speak to a lawyer and you don’t know something or in the case of what he he used to do was a doctor or a surgeon, they may ask you a question just to see what you do know or don’t know. So don’t lie, don’t fabricate and just tell them. I don’t know. But I can find out, you know, and seem knowledgeable in what you do and and everything will work out just fine.
Liel : [00:08:17] Yeah. I would add to that, that yeah that’s, that’s good advice generally speaking doctor, o no doctor the individual that you’re addressing. But I will add one thing I really like a lot of what I heard here from both of you. I will add here an understanding their pain points, understanding what the issues they’re having that you can potentially bring a solution to. And I think establishing that very early on in the conversation, I think that really helps build that connection, that empathy. Right. I mean, we talk a lot here also in this podcast about empathy, but we’re usually looking at plaintiffs who have been involved in a car accident and such. And it is a different type of empathy, but it’s still empathy. And so it works the same way. If you understand, if you show that, you know what our. The struggles they’re going through and can relate to them and at the same time start guiding them through a potential solution to that. Then I think you stand a very good chance of at least gaining their interest, at least them giving you a little bit more of room to explain and continue earning their attention and building on that trust.
Dean: [00:09:35] And Liel, I think you brought up a great point when you talked about understanding the pain points of the person you’re talking to because that everyone the reason you’re talking to them, they know why you’re there and you want to add value. And that’s what it comes down to. And those understanding their pain points about whether you want to improve their processes, drop their costs, anything of that nature, it’s really good to go in understanding that and show them right away because most of these people you’re talking to. Time is money for them. So going in there immediately establishing I understand how I can help you and these are the ways lay it out. I think that’s there’s no better way to add value.
Liel : [00:10:15] And Grace, you said something very good as well. Right? Which is ideal scenario. Ideal scenario. You want them to already know about you even before a conversation is started, right? It would be fantastic if there’s enough awareness about who you are, what you do, even before you initiate a conversation. Why, obviously? Well, because then a lot of that groundwork already be laid out for you. And I think that just puts you in a much more advantageous position. And just kind of like looking at it from the from the marketing standpoint, that is why it’s important to constantly be building your brand, you know, whether it’s through organic or paid methods, the effect ultimately it’s pretty much the same. You’re just are known, right? You’re just fulfilled. You’re kind of like, check that box that you become known. So I think that’s a very, very important step that just completely changes the landscape for you and the amount of access that you’re likely to get. So I don’t know. What’s been your experience with that Dean, in terms of how do you make yourself of more interest to your three individuals that you want to sell to in this particular case before before you initiate a conversation?
Dean: [00:11:35] Well, that’s kind of what you’re talking about, your brand. And it’s your reputation follows you everywhere. Your reputation precedes you. And and coming from where I came from in the medical device world with Globus, they’re known for their their innovative technology. We have stuff that no one no one else has on the market. So we can we can provide these surgeons with abilities in surgery to give their patients unbelievable opportunities to get back on their feet, get healthy again. And when the surgeons talk to each other, they hear about, oh, this really cool technology that only Globus has. It is it’s unbelievable because they’re kind of excited, like, oh, they’re always willing to learn, always interested in what’s new. They want to be on the cutting edge of things. And by having having new great technology and really getting the surgeons excited that that that helps a bunch.
Liel : [00:12:29] Yeah. Know very well your value proposition right. How do you how do you stand out. What do you have to contribute to them that no other can. Right. What sets you apart. I think that’s so, so valuable. Grace. How can we how can we bring this down to the relationships between lawyers and partners, such as medical providers, such as other attorneys and so forth and so on? Because this happens, right? I mean, referrals from one law firm to another law firm have to go through this process in order for one lawyer to decide. I want to refer to this lawyer. Right. It is exactly the same process that one goes through. So how do you see that being played out from inside a law firm?
Grace: [00:13:13] So I see it every day, right? I mean, especially with what we do in particular, how we handle cases. So in this network, right, because that’s what it is, you’re building a network of people and a network of attorneys or a network of whatever. And that includes the people you’re selling to. Right. And so in a referral network, it is you selling your unique selling proposition to another lawyer. Why should I go counsel with you or why should I refer a case to you? Or Why should I take a case from you as a lawyer? Do I know, like and trust you enough to do that? To put my name against your name or together with yours on a particular retainer agreement? Because that is what you’re doing. You’re putting your license up, right? So as a lawyer in this case, when you were referring to another lawyer there, I talk about this all the time, actually at Palma Super Summit. And there’s a few times where I talk about when we deal with data mining and referring out cases. Do I know I’m sure you remember where I specifically talk about that, where I’m telling people you need to know who you’re referring to because are you going to get referral reports? Are you going to get information back? Is your client going to be the service the best by giving it to this other lawyer? So you have to know like and trust your referral network, same as if you were selling a device, same as if you were anything you sell or do in the most general circumstances has to start with the whole know like trust cycle and any relationship we’re in.
Grace: [00:14:43] I mean, regular relationships like Dean and I, I know Dean because I know his brother, so I know he comes from somebody I know. Right? So that starts there then. Now, I’ve worked with him for a whole week straight. I like him, right. Because I know what he can do now. Building the trust. Right. And ours was able we were able to shorten that cycle because it came from a no like easy to the trust cycle at the end. So it’s the same thing when you’re selling a device or you’re referring a retainer, you’re referring a case. Whatever you’re doing with another law firm, you better believe you need to know like and trust them because you’re putting your case, your license and what you’re doing in their.
Dean: [00:15:26] Hands know exactly the no like trust. The thing is huge. And it kind of reminds me of something my coach at Texas used to say when we go through kind of the scouting reports, is he call it KYP and that’s, know your personnel and that’s just it’s something so big because no matter who you’re talking to, who you want to work with, potential clients, it’s always you want to know who you’re talking to. Most importantly, what what you alluded to earlier, what are their pain points? Where can you bring value? And you don’t want to skew off that easy. You want to be concise and go straight in for that no trust cycle and just know who you’re talking to. And I really think that’s a big part of of building any any trust.
Liel : [00:16:13] Grace In your experience, what do you think are the essentials, the fundamentals that a lawyer is looking in when they’re looking at potential referral cases or counseling? And obviously these are two different. I don’t know, maybe if you would like to differentiate between one and the other, but what do you think is on the wish list? What are the basics that need to be there when you’re another law firm trying to attract more referrals from other law firms, what would you think would be the most fundamental thing that you need to anticipate is going to be wanted?
Grace: [00:16:48] So there are essentially, I’d say, five fundamental items. There could be more, it could be less. But I’d say out of these, the first and foremost is what’s the size of the firm? Do they have enough lawyers? Do they actually litigate? Are they trial attorneys? What do their settlements look like? And those all fall into the same kind of what is their business makeup, right? So I’d say the very first thing is knowing how they’re set up, how their processes are currently working, and how quickly do they take care of their clients. Because you’re sending over a referral. So I need to know how fast you get to a settlement, how often you might settle versus you go to trial. So all of these metrics are extremely important to know. Besides, do I really know like and trust this person? And those came from all of those numbers, right? Besides the relationship, it’s knowing, can they actually service my client? To the best of my clients needs? Or would it be better for me to do it myself? Or would it be better to send it to someone else? So when you look at a referral firm, you need to make sure that the staff that they have in place is enough to handle what you’re referring to them.
Grace: [00:18:17] You need to make sure that they have enough attorneys, paralegals and staff to actually handle what you’re referring to them. Have they done that case type before? Right. Because there’s minimal there could be motor vehicle accidents. It could be slip and fall. It could be mass torts, which is what we normally do. I mean, there’s so many practice areas, right? So you need to make sure that you are sending it to the correct attorney to handle that practice area. And then from there, it’s just a matter of what kind of reporting do they have, what CRM systems they have, what technology do they have in place to take care of clients? Because your client is going to be serviced by this company, by this law firm in that way. So how are they going to service my client and knowing all of that would help you service your client the best. And that is always what attorneys are trying to achieve, right? Is how do I best take care of my client who’s going to get him or her the best compensation and take care of them as well throughout the whole process because they are injured.
Liel : [00:19:21] And I guess Grace, that’s where that’s where building thought leadership in the space is so important. Right. And we talk that so much about the importance of building your brand and such. And we’re usually always thinking about consumer, we’re always thinking about front facing. But at the end of the day, it’s so important as well to be putting as much effort into expanding your network into being perceived as a thought well, not being perceived, but positioning yourself as a thought leader within that network. So those all of those answers get answered, right? Because you don’t really get an opportunity to pitch. This is not a sales process where you go to a chart and there’s lawyers there and you get to explain to them why they should send their cases to your law firm. Right. That may be an idea out there, but at the end of the day, this is a decision that happens over time by just building your reputation, as you were saying, then it’s something that you you become known for. And so I guess that’s the value of being part of organizations such as National Trial Lawyers, American Association for Justice and getting your spot on the stage to speak, to talk, to be perceived as, hey, you know, these these are the leading law firms in this space.
Liel : [00:20:35] And so if you’re there learning from them, you might as well be very assured that if they are going to take over a case from you, they’ll do a heck of a job handling it. So that’s all great. Now Dean, I’m very interested in hearing how does this play out in the medical space? You’ve been dealing with doctors for for several years now, and Darrell’s very peculiar right. And so it’s not it’s not unknown that there is a lot of partnerships between doctors and lawyers. Right. We’re not going to get into details there, but these exist. So how what do you think is are the elements that that make that synergy work? And I’ll help you here. Let’s take money out of the equation. Right. Because that’s not part of the incentive that doctors should have about working more closely with a law firm or not.
Dean: [00:21:28] Yeah.
Liel : [00:21:29] What would be the other things that you think a doctor will appreciate a medical provider?
Dean: [00:21:34] Well, the biggest thing is you keep talking about is your reputation. Is this person trustworthy? You know, as Grace was saying, do you when you do your research on them, do they do good work? You know, do I trust this person to if I’m going to send you somebody, you know, I’m putting my name on the line as well. So do they do good work? Do they get it done in a timely manner? Is it cost effective? But at the end of the day, whether it’s for a doctor or who has their patients or a lawyer with their clients, at the end of the day, they both want what’s best for that person. And I think that’s the biggest thing they can connect on is the overarching goal that both of them want what’s best for their patient, for their client, and that’s something they really can connect on. And, you know, again, you take out money in the equation. That’s why both of them got into it, is to help people that has unfortunately, something is bad and they want to help people. And I think the synergy exists right there. They’re very core value.
Liel : [00:22:31] Great. I think you’re going to agree with me on this one. I think adding to what Dean said, which is really the baseline and the fundamental is integration. Right. How how frictionless can these partnerships be? Because one of the things I’m very aware is really a pain in the neck is is the communication of medical records, passing them on from one party to another, getting documentation, taking care of whether it’s from the law firm to the medical provider or the other way around and to whomever or their third party might have to. See them at some point. That process can be really kind of like the deal maker or the deal breaker. If you have good, strong procedures for that, then you may be of a lot of desire for a medical provider. If you if you are not well organized from that standpoint, I think you can be a heck of a lawyer, but you are not organized from that standpoint. I think that’s going to be a big pain point for medical providers. What do you think?
Grace: [00:23:32] So I actually this is perfect. When do you recall when we went to the CEO Lawyer conference of an actual medical provider, got on the stage and told us they want. So that is exactly what I’m going to talk about here. And that is they were specifically saying, I need communication. I want to know what it is that you’re looking for, for your client, because I want the client to be taking care of to to Dean’s point. I want them to be okay. So what are you need? Like, I’m not going to make up a note. I’m not going to make anything up. But if you need me to notate something that I know when I’m actually going over this person’s injuries, let me know. And she even provided it was a female medical provider. I think she was a doctor, actually. She provided a sheet that she uses as the intake when the person comes in and says, I am hurt here, here, here and here. That was specific to motor vehicle accidents, which is actually perfect for Dean here. But that is the type of stuff that you want, right? You want to see.
Grace: [00:24:36] Okay, that’s the intake sheet she uses. Maybe that’s the intake I should use when I take that person in. If she asks those questions, those are the questions I should probably ask. You know, it just makes sense, right? Because you get this two way communication where you’re definitely going to be able to take care of your client because you have a direct communication with the person taking care of their treatment. So if you can get anything from this conversation at all, it is speak to the providers directly because you will get the most benefit and your client will get the most benefit from the lawyer talking to the provider right away and getting all of the elements of what happened to them, how they got hurt, where they were hurt, and then marrying that with whatever the situation is, right, whether it’s a motor vehicle accident or a hernia implant or whatever it might be, learn the language and understand what they’re trying to communicate to you so that you can best serve your client. That’s how I look at it.
Liel : [00:25:36] Great point, Grace. And you’re starting to bring it all down to takeaways. So before we get into that, I’d like to thank once one more time Dean for joining us for these really good, short but insightful conversation. And Dean, why don’t you start taking us through what do you think could be some good, actionable or concepts that we can get us takeaways from this little shot here?
Dean: [00:26:03] I think one of the biggest things is kind of building off what grace is, just being transparent and what you need and what the goal is. And if you want these medical records, these things to smoke or to flow smoothly, then you talk to people. So much is lost in translation and it’s really tell them what you need and just don’t don’t assume anything. Tell them talk, discuss and talk with the the language of it as well. Just so you know the language, know who you’re talking to and where where you can add value. And I think that’s the biggest thing is just being transparent and really talking with people.
Liel : [00:26:43] That’s a really good point as a whole. And I really like what you’ve said about Do not assume because that generally tends to be a mistake all around, right? You assume things, but you only know so much. There’s always going to be a space, a gray area that you’re not that you’re not be aware of. And a lot can be going on in there that. Yeah.
Dean: [00:27:06] And you know when you assume in these, some of these, these cases dealing with medical records, going back and forth, most of these stuff is very time sensitive. So the less you have to call back and forth, oh, you need this, will, I did this, but I wanted this. The less you can knock all that out and just get strictly to the point it furthers the process, makes it go so much smoother and quicker, and that’s to everyone’s benefit.
Liel : [00:27:29] So you have two more. What would you say would be your two other takeaways?
Dean: [00:27:34] My biggest one is be confident when you when you are dealing with someone, I always think you should know what you’re talking about and be calm about it because when you walk into a room, when you talk somebody, if they’re kind of like a limp noodle or something like that, that’s not someone who inspires confidence, not someone you want to do business with. So I think confidence in any situation, whether you’re dealing with a client or potential client, anything like that, it be confident. Be confident what you do. Be confident and what you sell. Be confident in your abilities.
Liel : [00:28:03] Body language there stands out. Also, I think there has to be a right balance. And and I think also one important point in there is approachability. I think people want to talk to people that they can connect with. And I think there is a thin line that can that can be cross between confidence and, for instance, something like arrogance. And so definitely you don’t want to be falling down that path. You want to be on the confident, approachable kind of mix, right?
Dean: [00:28:34] Yes. Yeah. You know, you don’t come off as a jerk, but you do enough, enough self confidence where? Yeah, it’s approachable, but people believe in you.
Liel : [00:28:44] Exactly. Yeah, it’s a good one. Your final takeaway, Dean?
Dean: [00:28:49] My final takeaway is it goes back to your reputation. I think that’s so important in what we all deal with and putting the work in on the front end so people hear about these good things, whether it’s a peer to peer recommendation, whether they read about you, is doing the work on the front end. So when you get the opportunity, who knows, sometimes this client will come through. Or maybe I’ll meet with this surgeon just one time is do the work on the front end, and when the opportunity comes, your reputation will will be there, it’ll be intact. And it said you can provide value immediately that that warm intro is huge versus in going in, someone said, does this guy know what he’s talking about? I don’t know if they know what’s coming. You can just immediately go into whatever you’d like to do business with.
Liel : [00:29:35] Grace, anything to add to these great takeaways?
Grace: [00:29:38] No, they were really good, actually. It’s I would have stolen all of them. I think the only thing is, you know, your USP. What is your unique selling proposition? Right. What is your niche like? I mean, Dean said that a few times throughout this whole conversation. What do you have to offer me that is different from someone else? Why should I talk to you?
Liel : [00:29:58] Really, really good insights as a whole. Dean, thank you so much for sharing these three takeaways, I guess, Grace, just like you added that I think also the understanding of of the pain points, right? Understand what are the things that matter to your to the to the person that you’re addressing? Kind of like going back to your KYP that you’ve mentioned, you need to know your personnel and by that you mean you understand what’s on their mind, what motivates them, and also what frustrates them and address that straight up, straight front. So, Dean, thank you so much again for joining us for this conversation and good luck in your new role. That must be very exciting. Your working working with Grace. You already know you’re in a great team and we’re looking forward to seeing more of you here around this podcast.
Dean: [00:30:45] Yes, yes, absolutely. It was great being here. And I appreciate and look forward to seeing you guys real soon.
Liel : [00:30:51] All right. Thank you very much. Take care of Grace. Thank you, Bye. If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your coworkers. Leave us a review and send us your questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org, We’ll see you next week.